What to do in... Tuscany

Will be making my way across Italy for a few days this summer, by train or hire car (TBD), and wanted to know if any of you well-travelled, windswept and interesting folk had any tips or recommendations in the Tuscany region?

The plan is to go from Ancona to Livorno, via Florence, then head up north. Worth stopping off in San Marino? Pisa? The Cinque Terre? I’m mainly in it for the food tbh…

Don’t bother with Pisa, but I’d definitely suggest a day in Sienna, and the Cinque Terre if you have the time.

In Florence the Uffizi is the must-see, and the Academia is pretty neat, but the real gem is the Bargello, it’s always empty compared to the others too.

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I spent a week in Cetona a few years, which was pretty incredible. Awesome food too.

I’d avoid Pisa at all costs. Florence, Sienna and Montepulciano were all great.

Went there on honeymoon. Was lovely. As HYG says, Pisa isn’t worth bothering with, and both Siena and Florence are lovely. Coincidentally, I was watching a Rick Stein programme last night and he was in Bologna - the food looked incredible (and according to him, there were much fewer tourists there than in other Italian cities). It’s about an hour from Florence by train.


something about Dulwich Hamlet


You could go via Perugia and Sienna. If you head that way there are lots of nice towns and general Umbrian countryside - places like Citta di Castello, Gubbio, Cortona and Trasimeno lake if lakes are of interest.

i’ve not explored properly but from general driving i’d say the stretch north from Ancona is pretty uninspiring for Italy but you could stop over in Bologna which is a really good city break top destination (and where i currently reside!).

Florence can be hellishly busy btw. Just something to be aware of.

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Probably eat some nice pasta and drink some wine I reckon

I’ve been spoilt by Southern Italian food - bit sad really to live in Bologna and be disappointed by the food! Being vegetarian probably doesn’t help as Southern Italian food is a lot friendlier on that front.

and pizza and gelato (that’s ice-cream)!

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All good stuff, thanks DIS! Might check out @zanimos’s southern route…

^this. It’s also worth booking your slot in advance if you visit the Uffizi as the queues can be horrendous. I’m sure you can still do this, though it was aaaages ago when we went.

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Ah okay - they were mainly cooking meat and fish on this programme. (NB - as an aside, do you find that cookery programmes tend to major on meat/fish dishes? I’m trying to remember the last time I saw a cookery show - other than a specifically vegetarian one - that featured a vegetarian dish).

You could watch the start of Stage 11 of Giro d’Italia (17 May).

Don’t bother trying to rent anything there, there’s nothing available.

yeah Lucca is really nice.

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that’s why I was there. we went on an orchestra tour and stayed in tuscany and played a really nice open air concert in Lucca, with bar crawl afterwards. fantastic place.

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Don’t get me wrong, there’s still lots of lovely food here to try in Bologna. Hopefully they touched on aperitivi, which is a big cultural thing here. Basically you pay a few euros for a drink around 7pm-ish and get to help yourself to tonnes of food. The bars all try to outdo each other so it’s just a really nice social/cultural thing to do.

Italian food tends to be very regional - so you’ll find most restaurants in any given area will have a lot of very similar traditional dishes. In Bologna that is dominated by meat dishes, obviously Spag (Tag) Bol but also lots of tortellini filled with pork or chicken. In the South you seem to get a lot more vegetarian dishes which is just because of historical poverty.

yeah lucca is really lovely

Cinque Terre is really beautiful, but jam packed with American tourists. One of their main brands of guide books recommends it as one of the top places in Italy.

I second Lucca- olive oil is their big thing there too

Pisa is good for a day trip- have flown via Pisa many times. The Leaning Tower is even weirder when you see it in real life, it’s just in the middle of this big lawn in the town centre.

Pistoia is very pretty too. https://www.discovertuscany.com/pistoia/

Beans are their local thing in Tuscany. Lots of soups.